Week 384: “Come Silence” by Dag Rosenqvist

I used to think that white was a pretty straightforward colour. Then I tried to buy white paint.

Turns out that white comes in a wide variety of shades. Eggshell. Ivory. Corn silk. Seashell. Despite my initial cynicism, I now admit that these colours are subtly different.

The same can be said for silence. It isn’t necessarily the complete absence of noise. If you’re feeling stressed and would kill for a little silence, there are a few different kinds of silence you might want to try. I’m not sure if anyone has named them yet, but I’ll give it a try:

Natural silence – the sound of the natural world at rest. Rustling leaves, chirping birds, the occasional cricket. This type of silence is hard to find, but worth it.

City silence – the hum of an urban setting that never sleeps. Cars, conversation, industrial white noise. (Eggshell noise?)

Blackout silence – the sudden, shocking silence that comes with a loss of power. You don’t realize how much noise your appliances make until they all shut off simultaneously. This silence is best enjoyed by candlelight.

Focused silence – the silence of dozens of people concentrating, like in a library. One of my favourites; it’s like natural silence, but the rustling leaves are replaced by the periodic turning of pages.

Bubble silence – shutting out the world with noise-cancelling headphones. Can be achieved anywhere. Great if you need to hear yourself think.

Swedish composer Dag Rosenqvist’s 2016 album Elephant feels like it has a symbiotic relationship with silence. Songs fade in for whole minutes. White noise is employed to such a degree that you’re not always sure where a track ends or begins. Some songs build and buzz with an intensity that’s almost grating, while others, like this one, float by gently.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1.It emerges from the silence, gradually adding instruments. The whole track is like a reverse fade-out.

2. The chord progression, which somehow reminds me of the chords at the end of this song.

3. The saxophone, leaning in like someone whispering a secret in your ear.

Recommended listening activity:

Sitting cross-legged under a pile of blankets, armed only with a flashlight.

Buy it here.